Recent studies suggest that about half of anxiety and depression sufferers use some kind of integrative therapy for their symptoms.
Part of the reason people might be attracted to integrative care  for depression or anxiety is the holistic perspective found in most integrative approaches. This perspective takes into account the complex nature of depressive disorders and the numerous reasons why people experience them.
There have been more studies in the past several years looking at relaxation training, meditation , hypnosis  or imagery  in the treatment of depression. These practices have been an important part of traditional healing approaches for millennia (e.g. Ayurvedic , Traditional Chinese Medicine , Tibetan Medicine ). In addition, hypnosis is used by conventional psychotherapists, dentists, and other health professionals.
Research on yoga , stress reduction , and relaxation therapy shows positive outcomes for anxiety and depression. There is an especially large body of research showing that the practice of mindfulness can have a profound impact on mood.
Mindfulness meditation has been shown to improve symptoms of anxiety and depression after just 8 weeks. Mindful movement  practices, such as yoga, tai chi, and qigong , may also offer relief. Given that it costs little to learn these practices and there is little risk, they are worth pursuing. In addition to evidence of effectiveness, these practices can provide a sense of control over at least one aspect of life.
The uniqueness of each person’s biochemical processes is only just beginning to be appreciated. The evolving field of Functional Medicine attempts to take into account both the genetic information and the unique differences that occur in each person’s metabolism, including their extra need for certain nutrients. Current recommendations, as follows, come from a generalized understanding of human brain chemistry, without these individual considerations. Note: The best source of nutrients for the body-mind is from nutrition-dense organic foods.
CAUTION: When taking prescription medication for depression or anxiety, basic nutritional supplementation is useful, although some supplements should NOT BE USED while taking some prescription medications. Note individual cautions.
The following is often recommended daily for people with mood concerns:
Omega-3 fatty acid deficiency, or an imbalance with omega-6, correlates with an increased rate of both anxiety and depression. Dosage range has not yet been clearly established, but studies have shown improvement in depressive symptoms with as little as 1 gram, or as much as 6 grams a day. (This is the total of the EPA and DHA.) Begin with 1 gram a day of fish oil and increase slowly up to 3000-4000 mg per day. It is wise to work with a health professional in integrative health with higher doses. Flaxseed oil, or ground flaxseed meal, (2 tbsp daily) is a vegetarian alternative.
Caution: 5HTP & L-Tryptophan should not be used with medications unless you are working with a professional, due to the danger of Serotonin Syndrome, which is too much serotonin, a very serious complication.
Essential oils (aromatherapy ) are safe and can be effective for anxiety and depression. Individual preferences of scent may guide self-care. The essential oils of lavender, chamomile, basil, Frankincense, are generally found to have a calming effect (for those with anxiety), while bergamot and peppermint oil are stimulating and can help those with depression.
As the new field of nature-based therapies shows, being in nature  can reduce anxiety and depression and increase pleasant feelings. Looking at a scene of natural beauty, people describe their feelings with words like calm, beauty, happiness, hope, and aliveness. Being connected to nature not only makes people feel better emotionally, it reduces blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones—all signals of stress and fear.
So when you are fighting anxiety or feeling down, find a park or greenspace and go for a walk or go outside and work in your garden.
Pets may play a major role as a therapeutic intervention for people with anxiety and depression. Equine (horse) Assisted therapists have also been very helpful for people with anxiety and depression.
Music therapy  involves actively listening to or performing music to promote health and healing. Experts recommend listening to music regularly, either daily or weekly, to begin to see a reduction in depressive symptoms. More and larger studies are needed before recommendations are clear, but given the low cost and risks, this may be a helpful approach for those individuals who have interest in this area.
Naturopathy  includes diet, exercise, natural botanicals and supplements, mind/body practice, hydrotherapy, and other tools. For those preferring natural approaches, treatment with a naturopath can be partnered with psychotherapy of some kind.
Traditional Chinese Medicine  practitioners work with an individual to optimize their nutrition, activity, and internal energetic balance, using herbs, acupuncture , movement practices (qi gong and tai chi), massage  (Tui Na ), and other techniques. Acupuncture  for mild to moderate depression has been found to be promising in early studies, although larger reviews have not come to a consensus about whether or not it is effective in relieving anxiety and depression.
Disclaimer: The information in this website page is not to be used in place of medical treatment by a health or mental health provider.